Another title to see focus at NIS America’s Fall press tour is a bit of a niche outing known as Monster Menu: The Scavenger's Cookbook. NIS America has labeled it as one of their mid-tier titles, but it was among the select few to see a demonstration featuring a Japanese in-development build. Whilst Monster Menu did see a Japanese release back in January this year, it will be making its way overseas in Spring 2023 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and bringing along with it a new PlayStation 5 version.
As is Nippon Ichi’s bread and butter, Monster Menu is a strategy RPG with some survival tactics thrown in for good measure. That is, you’ll be tasked with collecting various things like ingredients and materials while making your way through dungeons crawling with, you guessed it, more monsters. Because what’s a dungeon without monsters for you to fight?
The survival element comes into play through the unique system of having to prepare meals with the items you’ve collected. You’ll have to survive through the depths of the dungeon, after all, so chomping down on food will boost your stats. The bonus is that even monsters can be weakened if you use rotten food so, as the title “Monster Menu” aptly notes, there’s a big focus on those cooking elements as well as getting your group of wayward teammates out of there.
Customization is Key
Like Nippon Ichi’s other strategy RPGs such as Disgaea, Monster Menu features battles on a grid system. Move around on the grid, attack enemies, and move around some more. It’s the usual fair. It's not flashy or original by any means - those original elements are found in the surrounding mechanics - but it gets the job done.
Monster Menu isn’t just about dungeon crawling or fighting atop a grid, however. There’s a load of customization options too and that includes editing your character’s looks, job class, pose, and more. Jobs like swordsman, mage, and even cook are available for you to mess around with. As you might have guessed, the cook is especially keen on cooking skills and can even act as a party healer. The other classes can use weapons such as swords and bows, but you can even fight with your hands should you choose. As with any dungeon, Monster Menu offers up a variety of loot to be had while exploring too.
One of the more interesting elements involves a more gruesome task that involves eating the flesh of your enemy. It’s not graphic by any means but it’s there and allows you to consume the corpse of fallen enemies and even allies! Doing so will restore your HP and activate a special skill during battle. It’s something to consider if you get into a tight spot – especially with the corpse consumed often dictating how much HP you get back and what skill you’ll obtain for that specific fight.
Monster Menu includes other traditional RPG add-ons like crafting too. All in all there feels like there’s a ton to do between all the various items you can pick up, the weapons and armor you can equip, and of course the character customization.
The characters themselves are colorful and creative-looking, even though the art style is largely pushing the sort of super-deformed big head anime aesthetic. It works for the type of quirky game being presented. The maps look somewhat basic but when you’re going to be spending most of the time fighting on a grid, it doesn’t seem like it will be anything too distracting. Characters being voiced is a plus, and as was mentioned earlier, you can customize the voice of your party characters.
These customization options as well as the unique cooking elements continue to highlight Nippon Ichi’s talent for unusual but interesting concepts. If you like dungeon crawlers, and more importantly, eating things, then Monster Menu might be for you when it launches early next year.
TechRaptor was invited to see Monster Menu: The Scavenger's Cookbook at the Virtual Press Tour hosted by NIS America.